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The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Catchments Loads Monitoring Program, monitors the annual loads of pollutants (sediments, pesticides and nutrients) generated from terrestrial runoff in the GBR catchments. The monitoring is undertaken at 26 sites across 14 drainage basins. The data is then used to model annual loads across the 35 drainage basins which is used in the development of the annual Paddock to Reef report cards which measure and report on progress towards Reef Plan (2013) targets.
Currently, the Mackay Whitsunday region has six monitoring sites that span from the Proserpine River in the north, to Plane Creek in the south. All six sites are monitored with autosamplers as well as ambient samples being taken manually from the waterway. The autosamplers are programmed to take event-targeted samples as the river level rises and falls during heavy rainfall. The ambient sampling is conducted monthly in the dry season and as needed in the wet season.
Samples from both the autosamplers and ambient monitoring are used to identify the range and concentrations of pollutants within the rivers and creeks throughout seasonal changes. Concentrations are determined with consideration of the volume of water flowing in the river and this determines the load, which is expressed as either tonnes or kg’s depending on the pollutant. The monitoring data is used to validate the catchment water quality models that track progress towards the Reef targets.
Each year the monitoring program releases a report detailing the results from each of the sites monitored.